Commenting on the Spring Budget, Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive of the Health Foundation, said:
‘Although the Chancellor acknowledged the nation’s health and its role in economic growth, the measures announced are very limited.
‘6.7 million working-age people are out of the labour market (excluding students), with over a third (37%) saying this is due to a long-term health condition.
‘The introduction of ‘Universal Support’ to help long term sick and disabled people back into work is a positive development. However, the scale of ambition is limited, with the OBR estimating only 10,000 more people in employment 2027-28, compared to a total 0.6 million with long-term sickness saying they want to return to work: 0.6 million is around the same size of the population of the city of Manchester.
‘We welcome the decision to scrap the Work Capability Assessment although how eligibility for additional financial support due to a health condition or disability will be assessed requires careful consideration. Government plans to use receipt of Personal Independence Payment (help with extra living cost for certain disabilities and health conditions) to determine eligibility will mean many miss out on extra financial support – especially people with mental ill-health.
‘The UK risks a shrinking labour pool as our population ages and if working age ill-health continues to rise. Boosting future labour force participation also means keeping people healthy and in work in the first place. This is why government should work with business and commit to an industry-led taskforce focused on supporting a healthy workforce.
‘On wider health policy, the Chancellor said little. Without a credible plan for expanding and supporting the health and care workforce over the long-term, the NHS will struggle to recover services and improve care for patients’